Busby “Buzz” Berkeley – Illustration Friday


Pencil sketch/study for monotype. Aquabee 6×9 sketchbook.
(To enlarge, click image, select All Sizes)

I’d been planning to work on sketching my cat Busby, also known as Buzz, to prepare for doing a monoprint of him today so it was convenient that today’s Illustration Friday cue is “Buzz.” Here he is! My next step is to do the drawing again with brushpen and ink, trying to work out making it just black and white. I want to see how extreme I can take it — how few lines and shapes are needed. But that will be tomorrow because…

Tonight is the opening party for my brother-in-law Tim’s show of his photos about building (and burning) the temple at Burning Man (photos) last year. So it’s off to the Lucky JuJu Pinball Art Gallery in Alameda, CA to party instead of painting. Here’s one of Tim’s temple photos:


Photo by Tim EnglertĀ 

More on Buzz tomorrow…

Illustration Friday: Invention


Drawn and painted using Painter digital tools.
To enlarge, click image, select “All Sizes”
This week’s Illustration Friday cue is “Invention.”

I visited the nearby Point Isabelle dog park to sketch today and noticed that everybody had these ball-flinging and picking-up devices. This wonderful invention allows people to exercise their dogs without having to get any exercise themselves. They don’t have to run or walk with their dogs, bend down to pick up the ball, or use any energy throwing it. All they have to do is drive to the dog park, get out and fling the ball while the dog runs around.

Aside from not getting exercise, it’s actually a pretty cool invention, especially for people whose dogs slobber all over the ball, or for people like me who throw the ball so that it hits the ground a few feet away.

I’ll post my ink and watercolor paintings from the park tomorrow.

Illustration Friday: Clear

Drawn in pencil, scanned, inked & colored in Painter digitally
(To enlarge, click image, select “All Sizes”)

After a few weeks of being too busy to participate in Illustration Friday, I’m excited that I was able to play again. The topic is “Clear” and I had several ideas: the plastic replicas of a man and woman whose internal organs are visible through their clear plastic “skin” that I had as a kid, a clearcut forest, a bottle of liquid with sediment that is settling until the liquid is clear, a woman with a clear mind and a not-clear mind, but I when I started doodling around with this one, clear (the table) it was the most fun to draw so that’s the one I picked.

Half way through, Painter did another one of its bloop–magic–everything is now gray, too bad–tricks. One minute everything was fine, everything but the line drawing was completely gray and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Finally I tried opening a new file and copying and pasting the two layers I needed into it and it worked. Painter is the most unstable program I’ve used in many years. At least I’ve learned to save every couple minutes. If it wasn’t so late I’d go in and clean up some fuzzy edges but it’s good enough and I’m off to bed.

Illustration Friday: GHOST (True story)


Drawn and painted digitally in Painter. To enlarge, click on image and open “Ghost (Large version)” on Flickr.

When I was a kid my mom made a ghost costume for me out of an old sheet, cutting holes for eyes and arms. Unfortunately it kept slipping around and I couldn’t see where I was going. It was also too long so I kept tripping on it. After about one block of trick-or-treating I stepped on the hem, tripped and fell, getting a nasty bloody nose. Then I had a really cool and scary Halloween costume!

This is a re-do of the drawing I wrote about yesterday that disappeared after working on it for two hours when Painter crashed and I discovered I hadn’t saved the file ever. Painter tends to be very glitchy that way, and I should have known better. I tried to recreate it today and it’s a little different, but better in some ways, and so am I, having learned a few good lessons!

I had a hard time getting the text to look right on screen when I shrunk thefile to fit on the screen. I finally had to reduce the “canvas” size to 450 px wide and then put the type in. Now I see why people use Illustrator. Pixel-based type is terrible if the image isn’t created at the final type size and you have to reduce the image size but Illustrator doesn’t have that problem.

Illustration Friday: Smitten

Watercolor version

Ink and watercolor in Raffine sketchbook
(Click image, select “All Sizes” to enlarge)

This week’s Illustration Friday word is “Smitten.” My original idea was to draw my Los Angeles sister’s rescued dove and parakeet that have formed a loving pair and live in a big cage in her little living room. I was going to ask her to try to send me a picture of them but remembered she doesn’t have a digital camera and I couldn’t really remember what they looked like. I guess it wouldn’t have really mattered since I just made this bird up anyway, without looking at any photos.

I started by drawing the idea this morning on a piece of scratch paper that had all sorts of other stuff on it so I couldn’t use it directly. I put the sketch on my Wacom tablet and drew over it, getting the drawing into Painter. Then I redrew it and experimented with trying to get the lines cleaner, but realized there were too many things I didn’t know about using the bezier curve tool and I was too tired to learn them today. I messed around with it in Painter way too long, trying out different backgrounds, trying to draw a cage, etc. I wasn’t happy with the way it looked painted in Painter (see below) so I printed out the line drawing layer on a piece of paper ripped out of my Raffine sketchbook. I painted that in watercolor (above) and stuck it back into the binding. I’m feeling less “smitten” by digital painting today and much more in love with watercolor.

Smitten-Digital version

Digital version done completely in Painter (blah)

Illustration Friday: Trouble


Digital art done in Painter
Click image to enlarge and select “All Sizes”

I immediately thought of my cat Fiona when I saw this week’s Illustration Friday cue: “Trouble.” She’s always getting into trouble: chewing on electric cords, wrestling with my socks until they’re in shreds, jumping on my head when I’m sleeping in the middle of the night, or walking across a painting and tracking wet paint everywhere…I could go on and on. So I decided to get even and give her a little trouble, even if it’s just in a picture. (But don’t worry, I have no cat door, no raccoons, and love little Fiona dearly, even though she is a naughty girl.)

I also thought of raccoons because I know how much trouble they can cause. My friend Susie had a family of them living in her attic, which was a terrible nightmare since they were were not at all house-trained and had no manners when it came to eating walls and other important stuff. If you’ve seen the cult documentary, Grey Gardens you know what raccoons can do to a house. I knew someone who had a pet raccoon when I was in college. It was really sweet, with the softest little leathery hands, but frequently tore the place apart, opening all the kitchen cabinets and feasting on their contents.

A technical note: Yippee! I’ve solved the Painter conversion problem. I bought a new monitor to hook up to my laptop and ran it through it’s color calibration program before painting. When I transferred the file to my desktop PC with Photoshop, the colors transferred correctly. I could see that the laptop monitor’s colors were lighter and duller, thus requiring me to use stronger brighter colors that, when transferred, were way too strong. The new LCD monitor can also be flipped to vertical (portrait) mode which is too cool! What a difference having a 20″ monitor instead of a tiny laptop monitor to draw with.

Illustration Friday: Quiet

Drawn and painted using Painter & Wacom tablet (click image and select “all sizes” to enlarge)

I had a few ideas for this week’s Illustration Friday challenge and this one seemed the more upbeat–the other two involved coffins and dead people (they are very quiet, though maybe not too attractive).

I love libraries and anything having to do with books. My “day job” is for a literacy organization and all of my co-workers are also book lovers. I have fond memories of family trips to the library when I was a kid, and also with my sons when I became a parent (and now with my little next-door-neighbor kids).

I really like drawing with the Wacom tablet and Painter when I’m trying to make a picture up from my imagination rather than drawing from life or a reference photo. I can keep sketching and just let images appear–not being exactly sure where I’m going. It’s fun to see who and what appears on the screen. Because I can keep erasing and trying new things on new layers and move things around, I can keep sketching a scene without throwing away tons of paper or sitting in a pile of eraser stubble. It seems a little like sculpting–carving an image out of a bunch of scribbles.

Technical stuff that probably nobody is interested in:
I’m still having trouble with converting Painter files to Photoshop — even if I convert to TIFF as the Painter tech support guy told me to do (because Painter converts it’s files to CMYK instead of RGB when it creates a Photoshop-compatible file), golden yellows look lemon colored. But I have determined that it’s not a problem between to my two computer screens. I opened the Painter file side by side with the Photoshop file on my desktop PC and could see that it was Painter/Photoshop problem not Desktop monitor/Laptop screen. The good news is I’ve learned how to use yet another function in Photoshop: Using Image/Adjustments/Hue-Saturation and tweaking the hue of the yellow channel solves the problem, without having to buy a new screen or anything else. This is also helpful when correcting scan color problems.

Illustration Friday: Phobia (Acrophobia)

Phobia (Acrophobia)

UPDATE: This illustration was sold to and published in Cedar Wings, the inflight magazine of Middle East Airlines, AirLiban, Issue #99.

This week’s prompt for Illustration Friday is the word “Phobia.” I have a pretty bad fear of heights, though I wouldn’t call it a phobia since it doesn’t prevent me from being in high places. It just makes me feel a little sick. Standing on the edge of cliffs always makes me feel like there is a powerful gravitational force pulling me off the edge (my stomach starts churning just thinking about it). Driving up steep hills I feel afraid the car is going to fall off backwards–I have nightmares about this occasionally–and it too makes my stomach churn. Maybe it has to do with my being tall–which always makes the ground seem far away?

I did this entirely in Painter, first sketching on the Wacom tablet using a digital pencil and then drawing with digital ink on another layer, then painting with the the digital airbrush because I haven’t learned how to use the other brushes yet. When I saved the file as a Photoshop file and looked at it on my other computer that is color callibrated, the colors were way off again. So I resaved the file in Painter as a jpg and the colors saved OK (not perfect though–the white clouds are pink and I had to adjust the color of the green land because it was too lime green). But little by little I’m learning how to work with this fun new art tool.

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 22 is the 10th International Sketchcrawl. I’m planning to go to the SF crawl and should have some sketches from SF and Sausalito to post tomorrow (if I’m not too tired tomorrow night!)


Illustration Friday: Change (Diaper)

Diaper Change

Here’s my second Illustration Friday idea for the topic Change. This was fun to draw in Painter but I used my laptop so I could sit at my drawing table instead of standing at my desktop computer. But the desktop monitor is callibrated and the color stays the same regardless of the viewing angle. Unfortunately that’s not true for my laptop. So when everything was finished on the laptop and I transferred the file to my desktop computer to use Photoshop’s “save for web” feature before uploading, I discovered that the colors were horrible. Half of the picture was piss yellow and hideous.

An hour later, mucking around in Photoshop, and it’s sort of fixed. It’s all a learning experience but I’m going to have to figure out how to work comfortably and still have the color turn out right. Any tips greatly appreciated!

(Here’s my other Illo Friday submission this week.)

Illustration Friday: Change (Climate)

Climate Change

This is the first of a few ideas I want to play with for this week’s Illustration Friday topic: CHANGE. I’m trying to learn how to use Painter IX and each time I do I find another level I know nothing about. I’m starting to get some basic understanding but it’s really challenging. So here’s this post…now on to the next drawing. (And here’s a link to it if you’re interested.)

Illustration Friday: (Ant) FARM

Illustration Friday

Before this week’s theme (Farm) was posted Friday morning, I was trying to take close up photos of some ants that were carrying around a chunk of kitty kibble on the bathroom sink. I don’t think they carried it there–maybe the cats dropped it? So when I saw that the topic of the week was “Farm” I immediately thought of those Ant Farm kits that I always wondered about when I was a kid.

My whole house is really an ant farm. The bathroom ants are the stupidest since usually there’s nothing for them to eat but toothpaste. The living room ants are travelers. They come in through one crack between the wall and the floor and go out through another nearby. The ones in the yard travel around managing their herds of aphids on the roses and bushes. The kitchen ants stay away from food or trash and instead hang out by the sink which makes it quite convenient to wash them away. The ant problem is minimal these days, since I discovered Ortho Home Defense (doesn’t smell and safe for kids and pets). Before that I felt like I was living in an ant farm! You just spray the stuff around the perimeter of the house once a season and the ants are gone. I guess it’s the end of a season (sadly).

I did this in Painter, which I’m trying to learn. It’s taking some time to get used to drawing on a piece of plastic that you can’t turn to draw in different directions. And when I moved the file from my laptop to my desktop computer I discovered that the colors were appearing much lighter on the laptop than they really are. My desktop monitor is big and calibrated and the laptop isn’t, but I can use it on my drawing table.

Illustration Friday: Safe (Safe Version)


Nice and safe and cozy. Now scroll down to the Risky version of “Safe” or click here to see it.

I originally drew this as a little pencil sketch in a notebook on BART yesterday. Today I scanned and enlarged it, and printed it on a sheet of paper I pulled out of my Raffine sketchbook. Then I inked over the printed pencil lines and painted it with watercolor. (I don’t like working in this Raffine sketchbook because the spiral binding is too big and it annoys me but I’ve discovered I can put the pages back when I’m done painting them. I know this would be considered sketchbook heresy to some but it works for me.)

Illustration Friday: Safe (Risky Version)

It’s best to use protection if you’re going to get close….

(I’m noticing from the comments that some people don’t get what the protection is…Is it my drawing that makes it hard to tell it’s a condom? Should I redraw to make it more obvious? Did you get it? )
I drew the snake on the left in ink in my sketchbook, painted it with watercolor, scanned it, and then in Photoshop, added a new layer and painted in the “protection.” I placed the two images side by side in a new Photoshop file.

Illustration Friday: Run

Illustration Friday

I did this sketch from a photo I took at Golden Gate Fields in the very early morning when the jockeys are training new horses, running them around the track. I actually intended to do an ink drawing, but after a couple of unsuccessful but fun drawings with a Micron Pigma brush pen, I decided to start with a pencil sketch and THEN do an ink drawing and add watercolor. But I ran out of time, so here’s the pencil sketch.

I feel a little lame doing such a literal take on RUN but I’d been wanting to draw from my horse photos and the other options I thought of didn’t really grab me for drawing them (running out of time, running the show, river running, a Broadway run, running for office). I liked Michael’s suggestion (a nose running) a lot because it made laugh and was really original–but it was his idea, not mine.

I used a .5mm mechanical pencil in my 9×12 Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook.


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